Wednesday, August 5, 2015

DU IT!:Whaling City Duathlon (8/2/15)

Top of the Podium
Race: Whaling City Duathlon
Distances: 1.1 mile run / 12 mile bike / 3.1 mile run
Goal Time: 1:10:00
Actual Time: 1:01:47 (1st Overall)

I was running along the beach on the second run.  And up ahead I could make out a guy in blue and orange. "That can't be the leader of the duathlon," I thought.  But it must be.  Only two people have passed me on the run and they both clearly the leaders of the triathlon.  I also knew Billy was probably closing on me to be the third to pass - but once again he was in the tri.  "Hmmm... Maybe I can catch him before mile 2 and then hang with him and then blow past him with a half mile left." But for now he was just blue and orange in the distance.

Run 1 - 1.1 mile (6:34)

The first run was my biggest concern.  Like the Miami Half Iron in 2011, that first run is weird.  Sure, I could run a 5:35 mile and have a big lead, but then there's still the bike and the 5k left.  So, I decided not to be too warmed up and use it as another mile warm up.

When the race started, This turned out to not be a good plan. Quickly four guys jumped out to the front. I had wanted to take it easy, but I didn't want to lose too much time.

Additionally, I'm not an experienced enough multi-sport athlete to properly know pacing.  I figured, It's only an hour-long race; I'll stay in sight of leaders and hope I can pass everyone on the 5k at the end.

I passed one guy on the run to stay in sight of the top 2 and finished the first run in 4th overall.

Bike - 12 miles (33:30 - 21.5mph)

I was fourth out of transition.  I was ready to hop on my bike at the mount point but the second and third place guys were slowly mounting and blocking the way...  There was still an hour of racing ahead of us, so I just waited a second for them to clear the way.

Since we started at the same time as the tri, we were the first people on the road.  With the clear road in front I was able to keep on eye on 2nd and 3rd place.  (1st place was well ahead and had quickly disappeared.)  I knew most of the bike course since it's on the same stretch as miles 8-11 of the New Bedford Half Marathon.

It was two laps of a sort of figure 8.  The first lap I was just trying to catch a rhythm.  I kept looking down at the computer and trying to make sure I was in the 19-20 mph range.  Around mile one you turn off the coast road and go up a small hill to two sharp lefts and then down the hill to a sweeping right back onto the coastal road.  The first half was rougher pavement than the second half with lots of tar repairs on the asphalt.  I had been able to hold position in the first half, since I passed on guy in the duathlon and then was passed by another (the man in orange and blue above).

When we started the second loop, I noticed that I had closed a bit on third place.  Also we hit traffic for the first time.  There were lots of cyclists from the tri pouring out onto Rodney French Boulevard and I spent the next mile just on the left passing them all.

As we made the first left to the hill, I realized my cyclocross bike had better handling skills than his tri bike.  If I could get him on one of the turns and then sprint away until we took the left to go on the other side of the peninsula, I could move myself comfortably into third before the run started.  So I tried to pass at the first left and that wasn't happening.  But, at the second left, he slowed for the turn and I took it as Gabe always reminds me from NASCAR: "low-in; high-out."

With the slight lead, I started to accelerate out of the saddle on the bumpy boulevard.  It wasn't until the end of the 9th mile that I sat back into my seat.  (Mile 9 was 23.4 mph). By the last turnaround at mile 10.5, I figured I'd just keep the steady pace back into transition.  As I saw where fourth place was, I was calmed to know I could reach transition in third.

Run 2 - 3.1 Miles (20:38)

As soon as I left transition, second place was 50 yards in front of me.  I wanted to sprint out and catch him; but...

I played it smart and I closed the gap slowly over the first third of a mile.  After making some small talk, I went on ahead.  At this point there were only two people ahead of me, the triathlete who passed me on the bike and the leader of the duathlon.  (Pretty soon the guy would go onto win the tri came blowing by me like I was standing still.) 

I think it was Joe who said a sprint tri is like a 15k run.  Sure enough, now I felt like I was just finishing up a 10 mile race (and running about that speed, too.) With noone in my sight ahead of me, I had nothing to do but race in my head.  I just fought through that first bit of post bike stiffness. Now I was just in end of race pain.

At the turn-around, I saw that the leader had a bit of distance on me.  I din't think I could make it up. But, by mile 2, I was right behind him.  The plan to stay with him and then try to beat him at the end seemed risky once I got to him.  After all I was running 6:40 miles and he was running 7:15s.  I determined to just try to keep running that speed.

I spent the next mile keeping up the pace and looking back at every slight bend in the path.  Surely, someone is catching up, right?  It wasn't until there was about a quarter mile left and you run up and down a pier that I relaxed.  The first person on my way back down I saw was Billy in the tri.  I was actually going to win.

I ran in.  I hit the finish straight, stopping the clock just a minute over an hour!  Winner, winner!

Urvi had a Sprint Triathlon PR
Bill Hafferty took 3rd overall in the triathlon
Susannah Ford was 2nd in her age group

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